The Barolo hill of disputes
In Italian story of lawyers, poison, appeals and judgements which subvert the previous ones regarding the most famous hill in Italy: Cannubi
Read for you by Donatella Cinelli Colombini
My grandfather Giovanni Colombini talked about it as if it were the mount of the gods, the Olympus of the Piedmont wines. Later I myself have been guest of my friend Anna Abbona from Marchesi di Barolo and I have seen for myself the beauty of the Cannubi hill covered in vineyards which in the autumn become a golden sea. From this romantic painting made up of a great landscape and great Barolo wines, we then descend to a situation full of court robes, duty-stamps and legal litigations. In other words from poetical to judicial.
What is considered the historical mother of Barolo, the Cannubi hill, is divided among 5 of the 166 “Menzioni geografiche aggiuntive” foreseen by the rules of production for Barolo DOCG approved in 2009: Next to Cannubi there are also Cannubi San Lorenzo, Cannubi Valletta, Cannubi Boschis, and Cannubi Muscatel.
According to what is said in the rules every label should indicate the area where the grapes come from. The cantina dei Marchesi di Barolo, the winery that for the longest time and in continuity has given lustre to the name Cannubi writing it on the labels of its Barolo since 1904, has vineyards in two of the sub zones: Cannubi and Cannubi Muscatel but uses for both only the term Cannubi and would like to continue doing so.
The Consorzio and the Comitato Nazionale Vini say yes, allowing the double mention on every plot of the hill.
There are some grape growers in Cannubi, who had an insurrection against this decision and formulate an appeal to the Tar in Lazio. In June 2012 the Tribunale Regionale says that they are right and imposes that on the label every single sub zone should appear.
This is where the Ministro dell’Agricoltura comes into it with a new appeal, this time to the Consiglio di Stato. Finally the final decision arrives: the whole Cannubi area, including the subzones can use the sole word Cannubi.
An Italian story which leaves one perplexed because it is an area which is really small compared to the dimension of the world market for this wine and most of all the amount of foreign competitors with which the wineries must battle. Dividing it into 5 portions can be a real problem.
However if we look at only the grapes characteristics, and consequently those of the wine, to delimit the areas basing things on their characteristics, is a useful way to communicate with the more competent consumers.
There are so pros and cons for whatever solution. This judicial event, which has made all of Italy smile, has had the merit of re-proposing the name Cannubi as a great Barolo and to allow the Abbona family, owner of the Marchesi di Barolo, the old 1904 labels.